All’s over then, the battle lost, and I
A “prisoner of war” in Alien hands.
My misery, and sorely wounded pride too deep for tears or words.
I sit and watch their reinforcements landing on my native soil.
My aching wounds and heavy heart,
In deep despair, await the order to embark,
And sail away in a prison ship to a prison camp.
Oh! Little home, I see thee now,
My wife and dark-eyed baby girl and little son,
Receding from my sight for many a day.
I leave thee now and I must wait,
In impotence, with idle hands,
While war’s deep waves roll ever nearer thee;
And haply may engulf thee in its tide.
I speak no word, I cannot. Deep despair
Has fallen on me, body and soul are one great mound of poignant misery.
Soon, I shall rise and lift my heavy load, to bear it like a man but now,
I watch the conquering foe come in.
My heart is bleeding inwardly, I see there go,
Lost hopes, lost battle and most bitter blow, lost liberty.
My cup of woe is full, I live not, but endure.
Following their victorious North African campaign, the Allies had turned their attention to Italy. May’s son Ron was amongst many RAF and other military personnel who were transferred from North Africa to Italy.
‘The Captive’, an original draft, was inspired by an item ‘Italian, Captive and UNhappy’ in the Daily Mail, Friday July 23rd 1943.
The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?